Caveirinha and his mission in Hawaii

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Caveirinha is getting ready for move to Hawaii. Photo: Personal archives

A Gracie Barra black belt who has produced a great number of athletes in Minas Gerais, Aldo Januário, better known as Caveirinha, was called up for a mission on behalf of the team. The fighter is packed for Honolulu, Hawaii, where he will head training at Gracie Barra University.

“Master Carlos Gracie Jr. invited me to go to Hawaii to teach at Gracie Barra University. I expect it to be a bigger gig than what I did in Minas. Today, in Belo Horizonte (the capital of Minas Gerais state) I count 45 black belts, with several world champions and champions of a number of other major events. My team is one of the largest in BH and I intend to do something in even bigger proportions in Hawaii,” he says, very optimistic about the project.

“I feel the name Gracie Barra will be very strong there, a reference around the world. Working in the team for 23 years, I went from white to black belt under Master Carlos and, now this new opportunity has arisen, I’m not going to waste it. Everyone who knows me knows how determined I am and how much I love my team and students. We’re going to do great over there! ” he adds.

No stranger to challenges, the trip to Hawaii reminds him of the time leading up to his move to Minas Gerais to teach.

“It was funny. I showed up at the academy and Carlinhos said, ‘Caveirinha, do you want to make a living with Jiu-Jitsu? Then he go home and grab a suitcase; you’re going to go live in Belo Horizonte.’ (laughs) That was in 1997 and nothing was premeditated. But the master has known me since I was a kid and knows that I follow through with my end of the bargain. I showed up there without knowing anyone and gradually got the project moving. Nowadays we have academies in Europe and some of my students are with the master in California. The most important thing for me about this gig in Hawaii is that Carlinhos put faith in me again. My goal is to open 100 Gracie Barra academies in several countries!”

Aldo with students in Belo Horizonte. Photo: Personal Archive

In the meantime, Caveirinha is reminded how work at the branches in Minas Gerais carries on strong, and bears news.

“In Belo Horizonte my brother Fabio will be in charge. We have a number of new projects. Next month we’ll open a new academy, which will be the largest in BH, fully integrated into the Gracie Barra Premium Schools system. Students may only enter if they are properly uniformed and we will follow all the teaching methodology,” he says, going on to explain the advantages of the system.

“Of the branches I’m in charge of, half already follow this method. In my view, it’s revolutionary, preventing, for example, new students from getting hurt. Carlos Gracie and Marcio Feitosa are to be congratulated. It’s something that is good not just for the higher ranked, but also for beginners. These days, someone who enrolls at the academy then goes on to take his wife, children and friends to train. The overall organization is what makes the difference. This will revolutionize things and will be reflected in the number of students around the world,” he wagers.

Jiu-Jitsu to the rescue – Caveirinha is one of many Brazilians born into a humble family. For the resident of a poor community in Rio de Janeiro, sport, specifically Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, provided new opportunities in life.

Surrounding Master Carlos Gracie Jr. (middle), Caveirinha and family. Photo: Personal Archive

“My father left my mother, Betti, with five children. I’m from the Rio das Pedras community in Jacarepagua, and from a modest family. My greatest joy is seeing my brothers and family members all training Jiu-Jitsu. The sport has changed our lives and today we are happy for this choice and for being able to help our family a bit. My life was always been like this, a great battle. I suffered, but Gracie Barra is a family and I love it more with every day. For this reason there’s no such thing as team Caveirinha; it is all one. I fight and will always fight for Gracie Barra.”

Speaking of fighting, Caveirinha also made his name in competition. These days, though, he is focused on teaching, a passion of his. But, if need be, competing is not out of the question.

“I had the pleasure of winning a lot of championships and fighting alongside Marcio Feitosa at the Brazilian Team Nationals. I have a good CV as a fighter, but what I like most is expressing my love for the team and the pleasure I derive from teaching Jiu-Jitsu. For me the most rewarding thing is to see a student with a medal or developing good technique in practice. But I’m 31 years old, if need be I can fight still (laughs)! “

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